Tag Archive for: Performance

CMS Launches CCJR Bundled Payment Program for Hospitals and Post-Acute Care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently finalized its rule for the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Program (CCJR), a five year pilot program that will run in 67 regions across the country. Hip and knee replacements are the most common inpatient surgery for Medicare beneficiaries and can require lengthy recovery and rehab time. In 2014, there were more than 400,000 procedures, costing more than $7 billion for the hospitalizations alone, with the cost of surgery, hospitalization, and recovery ranging from $16,500 to $33,000 across geographic areas. This wide variation in cost, along with similar variation in quality and complication rates, led CMS to make the CCJR program mandatory for almost all hospitals within the chosen regions.

Percent of Spending by Type, MS-DRG 470

  • Index (hospital)
  • Post-Acute Care
  • Physician Services
  • Rehospitalizations
  • Other

The CCJR will hold hospitals accountable for cost variation and performance for the 90 day period beginning with the hospital admission for MS-DRG 469 and MS-DRG 470, inclusive of all related follow-up post-acute care and Part B spending.  The specific mechanism for payment places a high burden on hospitals to select high-quality, lower-cost post-acute care providers, and actively manage cases as patients move through the episode of care. While individual fee-for-service providers will continue to receive regular payments for services, CMS will prepare an accounting at the end of the year (beginning with year two of the pilot) of the actual spending versus the allowed spending based on a per-episode rate. Hospitals that exceed the allowed amount will see their year-end Medicare payment reduced by an equal amount, whereas hospitals that spend less are eligible for an incentive payment. In addition, CMS will set quality benchmarks that must also be met regardless of spending.

Many hospitals will struggle to navigate the post-acute care environment and select the most effective setting for patients. For post-acute care providers, this is a fantastic opportunity to provide leadership and guidance to local hospitals serving joint-replacement patients. PAC providers with extensive home health networks will be at a particular advantage, as this program provides an incentive to test out lower cost interventions, such a tele-therapy, remote home monitoring, and active case management as an alternative to extensive skilled nursing stays and potential hospital readmissions. For patients still within the 90 day window, skilled nursing facilities have the opportunity to provide a lower cost triage and stabilization environment for patients versus a repeat acute inpatient admission.

Initially, partnerships and narrow referral networks will likely be based on publicly available measures, like the Nursing Home Compare Five Star Rating System. This is only the beginning, however. As I’ve written before, narrow networks will soon give way to smart networks, built on actual value outcomes and cost data. CMS plans to share extensive spending and use data to eligible hospitals to help them navigate this new program before penalties begin to set in. Armed with this information, hospitals will likely shift their focus to outcome measures and quality factors that account for the biggest drivers of actual costs: least expensive setting, overall length of stay, functional improvement, and readmissions over the entire 90 day episode.

In the example to the right (taken from the Vantage Care Positioning System from Avalere Health), two area SNFs have significantly different LOS and rehospitalization rates, leading SNF A to cost more than $2,000 more per case, on average, than SNF B. As long as SNF B is able to maintain the necessary quality levels, hospitals will have a significant financial incentive to funnel patients to that location.

Going forward, there are additional avenues that offer even more potential to reduce costs and better serve patients, notably:

  • Respite care in assisted/ residential care communities, coupled with home health
  • Telerehab, with reduced frequency home health
  • Remote patient monitoring to increase security/ reduce risk for patients recovering at home
  • Incorporation of non-medical healthcare workers armed with clinical decision support and predictive analytics to guide services
  • Home care, meals services, and housekeeping support post-discharge to reduce risk of rehospitalizations or other complications.

The CCJR is likely the first of a new wave of mandated bundles from CMS, and may pave the way for similar moves by other payers. Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and post-acute care providers should view the joint program as a template to build upon in a value-based future rather than an aberration of fee-for-service to be minimized or ignored. Non-traditional players, such as home care, meal services, and other senior housing providers, should view the CCJR as a new market opportunity with significant growth potential ahead.

Wondering how the CCJR program will affect your organization?

Five Qualities of Role-Based Leadership

An important piece of adaptive leadership is the ability to apply different skill-sets to address different types of problems. Just as you (hopefully) wouldn’t use a hammer to fix a leaking pipe, you shouldn’t rely on one style or approach of leadership to meet every challenge. This complex understanding is oftentimes overlooked in leadership literature, where many authors propose more static models of “what a leader looks like.” In contrast, Ester Cameron and Mike Green, in Making Sense of Leadership: Exploring the Five Key Roles Used By Effective Leaders, propose a five quality leadership model that I find very helpful in understanding adaptive approaches. The five qualities they propose are:

  • The Edgy Catalyzer: Creates discomfort to promote change

    This quality is crucial when the status quo is an impediment to change or when an organization has become too complacent with its current structure and processes. By asking uncomfortable questions and pushing employees to examine held beliefs, the edgy catalyzer can help create a sense of unease that leads to a desire for change.

  • The Visionary Motivator: Focuses on engagement and buy-in to energize people

    A great deal of leadership literature focuses on the role of the visionary motivator in leading teams. This quality builds engagement and participation from team members and helps to create a coalition capable of moving change forward. Communication and positivity are essential traits of this quality.

  • The Measured Connector: Promotes a sense of purpose and connectivity between people

    Measured connectors work to align people with stated goals and targets. At times change can move uncomfortably fast, and this quality focuses on keeping team members together and committed. As organizations and care delivery systems become more complex, the importance of aligning not only internal employees but also external stakeholders grows.

  • The Tenacious Implementer: Focuses on projects, timelines, deliverables and targets

    In the article “What Leaders Really Do,” John Kotter creates a useful distinction between management work and leadership work. One common trap that leaders fall into, however—especially those skilled at building visionary coalitions– is failing to stick around and ensure that goals and projects are actually implemented. The quality of tenacious implementer is particularly important when managing the change required to implement regulatory fixes and large-scale IT projects, like EHRs.

  • The Thoughtful Architect: Envisions frameworks and system design to support needed change

    When working on system change or long-term strategic planning, leaders need to understand how to construct structural and process-oriented objectives to bring into existence an engaged vision. Indeed, many thought leaders are exceptional at building a strong coalition around a hopeful vision for the future, but then struggle to actually redesign an organizational structure or business line that brings this vision to life. The thoughtful architect quality is the most introverted of the qualities, and benefits from time to reflect and consider.

Cameron and Green constructed the following chart around some basic questions to highlight the differences between the qualities:

In considering the challenges facing your organization, different qualities of leadership are necessary in differing amounts to enable the organization to deliver the best results. Like many models of leadership, these five qualities are all considered “positive,” in the sense that they are all necessary to accomplish goals, though, as shown above, the amounts of each quality can vary considerably based on the specific aim. Put into the context of aging services, I’ve offered a visual depiction of the relative amounts of each quality useful in responding to the following challenges:

For each quality, too, there is a risk of using too much or too little of it, and it’s for this reason that I find the model most useful. The problems and challenges facing healthcare organizations today are myriad and diverse, and a one-size-fits-all model of leadership risks sacrificing the particular advantages of skills that might be necessary on one project but not on another. By understanding and embracing this complexity, adaptive leaders are much more effective in responding to a wide assortment of challenges and much more successful in leading a diverse range of change initiatives.

Balanced Scorecards and Key Performance Indicators in Long term and Post-acute Care

Are you struggling to accomplish your desired strategy? Thwarted by constant operational challenges? Your measurement systems might be able to help more– or they might even be part of the problem.

Many healthcare organizations track enormous amounts of data to guide their action and strategy. Sometimes, however, the pursuit of measures and metrics interfere with the implementation of strategy, and organizations struggle to move past the day-to-day business challenges to accomplish their long-term goals. Balanced scorecards and KPIs are two tool sets that, when used properly, can be used to facilitate both managing operations and preparing for future work.


Balanced Scorecard for LTC

Balanced Scorecards

The concept of a balanced scorecard was developed in the mid-90s by Robert Kaplan and David Norton (with help from  Art Schneiderman, et al.) as a response to the over-dependence on financial measures to guide organizational action. The purpose was to translate strategy into measures that could inform action by balancing financial measures with measures around the perspectives of customers, internal business processes and innovation/ learning. Over time, additional features were added, such as strategy maps to help visualize direction, and destination statements to provide more definition around goals.

A key challenge to implementing balanced scorecards is they take a significant investment of senior leadership’s time to develop. While financial measures are easy to translate across organizations (census, payer mix, days in AR and financial ratios would be common in long-term care), as well as some internal business measures (quality indicators, survey and cert. results), the customer and innovation quadrants needs to be more locally refined. Some organizations, for instance, serve specific populations, and the measures of success need to be closely aligned with those missions. Similarly, learning and innovation is important in every organization, but the actualization can vary from an interest in employee development to implementing evidence-based practices to technological adoption.

Sometimes, the challenge is having vague ideas about strategy but no clue about how to get there. I’ve worked for and with several organizations that have wanted to “be the best place to live and work” and “a teaching and learning organization.” They struggled year after year with making progress, however, because they didn’t hone in on specific measures to drive that strategy, nor did they have clear ideas about what exactly those lofty goals meant.

The Capital Care Group in Canada implemented a balanced scorecard, and there are some great lessons learned from research on that process:

“The balanced scorecard has focused on its role as a strategic management tool. The indicators and dimensions need to be customized to the organization. Senior management must be seen to be driving its introduction. It is worth spending sufficient time developing and implementing a scorecard rather than trying to rush its introduction. The scorecard needs to be integrated with existing management processes and sufficient resources must be assigned. However, success will ultimately depend on the culture of the organization being appropriate and receptive.”

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs were developed to focus attention on accomplishing organizational strategy by measuring discrete data points. Again, financial measures have been used successfully for quite some time, but KPIs expand the reach to things like productivity, marketing success, turnover, meaningful quality measures (ones that either impact action or reflect operational results) and the like.

When adopting KPIs, it’s important to choose a limited number so that staff don’t become overwhelmed with the measurement of data for its own sake. It’s also important to understand the tendency for measured indicators to pervert performance by allowing managers to manipulate action in promotion of measured activities even at the expense of organizational success. I frequently see this when organizations measure turnover without regard to other performance metrics. This tends to incentivize managers to keep staff regardless of performance or actions– even at the detriment of team morale and operational effectiveness. High turnover is a costly problem in long-term care, for sure, but not all turnover is bad.


Using Organizational Metrics Effectively

Whatever system of measurement you use, it’s important to understand the systems themselves don’t determine strategy. Measurement systems are oftentimes compared to an automobile’s dashboard or an airplane’s cockpit: but remember, you can’t tell where you’re going, or, even moreso, what you’re supposed to do when you get there, by looking at a dashboard; nor can you tell whether you should go through an intersection by staring at your dash. Instead, the dashboard helps keep you on track and can highlight problems that might interfere with your trip. Balanced scorecards and KPIs function in a very similar way: they guide action and help implement strategy– but you still need to know where you are going and what you want to do when you get there, and you must keep in mind that they are only a piece of the overall operational puzzle.


eSSee Consulting has extensive experience developing and implementing measuring and metric systems in long-term care organizations. If you’re unhappy with your current system, or don’t have effective dashboards at all, we would love to help simplify your life by focusing on measures that truly impact performance and push you towards your desired goals.

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